Group urges FG to dismantle Army checkpoint at Mgbidi, Imo state, says it is dehumanizing.

By Sylva Emeka-Okereke, JP, Publisher 

As commuters along Owerri-Onitsha expressway, recount their sad ordeals in the hands of soldiers, a security tracking platform, otherwise known as Security Situation Room, has urged the Federal Government to direct the Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff to dismantle the illegal, ethnic-profiling Army road blocks at Mgbidi, Imo state.

In a statement issued in Abuja, the Convener of the Group, Mr. Douglas Ogbankwa, on Tuesday, noted that the Army checkpoint is illegal and should be dismantled”.

“The Security Situation Room through our observers noticed with dismay, the long unconscionable and reprehensible gridlock, artificially spurned by Ethnic Profiling Army Personnel , who force commuters to disembark from their vehicles like great trek of the pre-apartheid South Africa, with the attendant danger of fast-moving vehicles on the ever-busy Owerri- Onitsha expressway, a clear case of Ethnic Profiling and even Apartheid Policy targeted towards the Igbos as prohibited by Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999 (As Amended), as Majority of those that play that road are of Igbo extraction”, the statement read in part”.

Continuing, he said, “where as in the hot-bed of insurgency and banditry in the North East, the Nigerian Army does not deploy such selective and targeted method used to humiliate people without any reasonable cause whatsoever”.

“They force occupants of buses and commercial cars to disembark, who are mostly those perceived as the poor and weak, while those in Air Conditioned Private Vehicles are given fast passes, which is in violation of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,(1999), as Amended, which states that nobody should be discriminated against because of his or her status, tribe, religion, gender, creed, etc.”

“There is no search conducted, even at that they need a warrant on each commuter in their name to conduct a search, according to the law.
“Such impediment of movement can only be effected by a court order.
“Allowing such arbitrary use of power creates a society of strong men and not strong institutions.”

“The Security Situation Room condemns the actions of the Operatives of the Nigeria in Mgbidi ,along the Owerri Onitsha express.
“We restate that there is freedom of liberty and freedom of movement, as enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , 1999 (As Amended), as the actions of the Operatives of the Nigeria Army in the flash point indicated above is a flagrant infringement of the Fundamental Human Rights of the citizens, who ply the road”.

“We call on the Imo State Government to insist that the protection of Human Rights are maintained in the Security Operations in the state, as the rule of law should be adhered to , as doing so is in the interest of national security”.

“We noticed that following our outcry, the Army in Anambra has conformed with the Standard Operational Procedures and we call on the Imo State Government and the Army in Imo State to resist the temptation to make Imo State a safe haven for ethnic profiling of the Igbos”.

“We state that road blocks between Anambra and Imo states are too many and it actually impedes the free movement of citizens and goods in the South East.

“We remind the Imo State Government and the Army in Imo state of the judgment of Justice Ogu of a High Court in Awka , which had declared those road blocks Illegal and an infringement on the Fundamental Human Rights of Citizens”.

“We thank Mr Gozie Esq., for having the temerity to challenge the status quo and we ask citizens to fight for their rights through the lawful process in these times of blatant impunity that is targeted at ethnic profiling and nothing else”.

“As the Nobel Laureate – Professor Wole Soyinka said. The Man dies in him who keeps silent in moments of oppression,” the statement concluded.

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